04/11/2012 1:07PM

Jerardi: Casting Hall of Fame ballot in show of support for Bob Levy

The standout sprinter Housebuster is among the 10 finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class.

I keep staring at my Hall of Fame ballot, not quite sure what to do. The 10 horses, trainers, and jockeys are all quite deserving. The rules say I can vote for all 10 or any of the 10.

Obviously, if I vote for all 10, I am actually not voting at all. So what to do?

Shouldn’t Calvin Borel automatically be in the Hall just for winning the Kentucky Derby three times in four years? That never happened before and won’t happen again – unless Calvin wins this year and next.

Xtra Heat won 26 of 35 starts in an era when 26 wins is the equivalent of 50. Why couldn’t she win the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint when I had her at 17-1 and singled her in the pick six? She finished second in a brilliant effort.

Ghostzapper is at the very least in the Beyer Figure Hall of Fame with figures of 120, 128, 124, and 122 in four of his final five races.

I know very little about trainer Robert Wheeler, but Jay Hovdey says he should be in. So, he should be in.

I know a lot about Housebuster and his owner, Bob Levy. Before the Philadelphia area started to dominate the Triple Crown mid-decade, there was Levy’s Bet Twice finishing second in the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness before running away with the Belmont Stakes.

Housebuster made his debut a year after Bet Twice retired in 1988. The horse won 15 of 22 starts and was twice named sprint champion. There was fast and there was Housebuster fast.

The horse’s greatest race may have been the 1990 Metropolitan Mile, when he ran away from Easy Goer and was nipped at the wire by Criminal Type

If there is a Hall of Fame in the Philadelphia vicinity, Levy is in it. He is a sportsman in the classic sense of the term. He supports all the sports at his beloved University of Pennsylvania. He once owed a large piece of the Phillies. His Little Quakers football team is a city institution. In addition to all the wonderful horses he ran, he owned Atlantic City Race Course.

It was in the early 1980s when Levy’s track started taking bets on the races from the Meadowlands. It was a revolutionary concept at the time. They called it simulcasting. Levy showed the country the way. Imagine the game without it.

The 1987 Triple Crown was memorable because of the great Alysheba-Bet Twice rivalry. For me, it was memorable because of the fun Levy and everybody around him had that spring. When Bet Twice finished second in the Derby, most of them headed to the windows with a smile. They had the exacta.

When Bet Twice won the Belmont, they needed a place to celebrate. Call Sonny Werblin. Get a room at The 21 Club. No problem. For that move alone, Levy should be in the Hall of Fame.

Alas, there is no spot for horse owners or owners of racetracks in the Hall. There is a category called “Exemplars of Racing.’’ I have no idea what an Exemplar is, but I did notice there are only five Exemplars in the Hall. To me, Bob Levy sounds like an Exemplar, whatever it is. So, make him No. 6.

Levy will tell anybody it is about his horse. And it is, of course.

So I am voting for Housebuster, but it is really my way of voting for Bob Levy.

The Derby numbers

It was just two weeks ago when I confidently wrote that the Kentucky Derby horses were all about to blow up, that the six contenders that had already hit triple digits on the Beyer scale were a positive sign for Big Beyers on the horizon.


The Florida Derby got a 95, the Wood Memorial a 98, and the Santa Anita Derby a 94.

I liked a lot of what I saw from the logical contenders, but I was surprised none of the races went faster. Perhaps, the breakout will come in the Derby itself. Or maybe it will be this Saturday in the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby. I, however, am no longer as confident of that. Until some horse runs really fast, we are left to wonder if it will happen and sift through all the possibilities.

I saw what everybody saw from Union Rags in the Florida Derby. I also think the jockey gave up a huge tactical edge in the first few yards. When Union Rags broke so well, Julien Leparoux really should have taken the race to Javier Castellano and El Padrino on the first turn and come out of the turn no worse than third.

It didn’t go down that way, of course. We are left to make sense of what might have been.

Maybe, some 3-year-old is ready to do a Barbaro. The colt went from a 95 in the Holy Bull to a 103 in the Florida Derby all the way to a 111 in the Derby.

You have to go back to 2008 when one horse had an obvious Beyer edge going into the Derby. Richard Dutrow Jr. said the others were running for second because Big Brown held such a big figure edge. The trainer was correct as Big Brown dominated the race from the 20 post.

There was no Beyer insight that was going to help with Mine That Bird, Super Saver, or Animal Kingdom.

Three weeks out, there is no obvious superfecta single that can be gleaned from the numbers. So, unless some horse runs a really big one Saturday, this will require more thinking than we Beyer loyalists would really like.

Of course, I could just do what I did the last time I was at Churchill – single Union Rags in all exotics. Felt unlucky in November. Might be time to get lucky.